Maggie Haberman, New York Post, May 9, 2008
Hillary Rodham Clinton played the race card yesterday as she dismissed Barack Obama as a candidate who will have a hard time winning support from “white Americans.”
It was the most starkly racial comment Clinton has made in the campaign, and drew quick condemnation from some Democrats.
She’s been on the defensive ever since Tuesday’s big loss in North Carolina and narrow win in the Indiana primary—dismissing calls to drop out.
“I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,” she told USA Today in an interview published yesterday.
She referred to an Associated Press story on Indiana and North Carolina exit polls “that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”
She added, “There’s a pattern emerging here.”
An analysis of racial breakdowns is always done behind the scenes by campaigns, but it’s rarely discussed by a candidate openly.
The Obama campaign declined comment, referring to spokesman Bill Burton’s statement to USA Today.
Burton, noting that Obama performed strongly among working-class voters in Indiana and did better with whites there than in Ohio, said the Illinois senator will appeal “to Americans from every background and all walks of life.”
“These statements from Sen. Clinton are not true and, frankly, disappointing,” he said.
Clinton’s “white Americans” remark drew a swift rebuke from some superdelegates, and private dismay from several Democrats concerned about reuniting the factionalized party.
* The Rev. Al Sharpton told NY1 there’s no scenario where Clinton can become the nominee without the “total destruction” of the party, adding, “It’s over. . . . Come sing another day, but this show is over, Sen. Clinton.”